What was the importance of Gujarat during the Mughal Empire?

Gujarat was a rich province and its richness was advertised by the famous loot of Somnath by Mahmud Ghazni in 1125 A.D. It was annexed to the Sultanate of Delhi in 1297 in the reign of Ala-ud-Din Khalji. After the province was held by Muslim Governors who were subordinate to the rulers of Delhi.

Zafar Khan, who was the son of Rajput convert, was appointed Governor of Gujarat in 1391 by Muhammad Shah, the youngest son of Firuz Tughluq. In 1401, he formally assumed independence. His son Tatar Khan conspired against his father and threw him into prison and declared himself king under the title of Nasir-ud-Din Muhammad Shah. He even marched towards Delhi but was put to death by his uncle Shams Khan.

The result was that Zafar Khan was once again able to recover the throne and he took up the title of Sultan Muzaffar Shah. He fought a successful war against Hushang Shah, the ruler of Malwa. He was also able to capture Dhar. He died in June, 1411.


Muzaffar Shah was succeeded by his grandson named Ahmad Shah who ruled from 1411 to 1414. He was a brave and warlike ruler and he spent the whole of his life in fighting and conquering.

He has rightly been called the real founder of the impendence of Gujarat. In 1414, he marched against the Hindus of Girnar, defeated Rai Mandalik and captures the fort of Junagarh. In 1415, he destroyed the temple of Sidhpur. In 1416, he marched against Dhar. In 1421, he marched against Malwa and besieged it.

Hushang was defeated. Ahmad Shah attacked Rao Punja of Idar who had carried on treasonable correspondence with Hushang. The Rao fled but he was overtaken and beheaded. In 1437, Ahmad Shah besieged Mandu and defeated Mahmud Shah Khalji.

In 1411, Ahmad Shah built the city of Ahmadabad on the left bank of the Sabarmati River near the old town of Asawal. Many beautiful buildings were constructed there. He spent a lot of time in improving the civil administration of his dominion. His only defect was that he was intolerant in matters of religion. He waged relentless wars against the Hindus. Their temples were destroyed and their leaders were forced to become Muslims.


When Ahmad Shah died in August 1442, he was succeeded by his eldest son, Muhammad Shah. He ruled up to 1451. He was succeeded by Qutb-ud-Din Ahmad and Daud. Daud annoyed the nobles and was deposed by them. The nobles placed on the throne Abul Fateh Khan, a grandson of Ahmed Shah.

The new king was known as Mahmud Begarha and he ruled from 1458 to 1511. The author of Mirat-i-Sikandari writes thus about Mahmud: “Not-withstanding his high dignity and royalty, he had an enormous appetite. The full daily allowance of food for the Sultan was one man of Gujarat weight.

In eating this he put aside five sirs of boiled rice and before going to sleep he used to make it up into a pasty and place one half of it on the right hand side of his couch and the other half on the left, so that on whichever side he awoke he might find something to eat and might then go to sleep again.

In the morning, after saying his prayers, he took a cup full of honey and a cup of butter with a hundred and fifty golden plantains. He often used to say, “If God had not raised Mahmud to the throne of Gujarat, who would have satisfied his hunger?”


Mahmud Begarha ruled the country for about 53 years without the influence of any minister or harem. He was a brave warrior and he succeeded in all his campaigns. He saved Nizam Shah Bahmani from aggression on the part of Mahmud Shah Khalji of Malwa. He defeated the Sumra and Sodha chiefs of Cutch.

He suppressed the pirates of Jagat (Dwarka.) Bhima, chief of Dwarka, was taken prisoner and was sent to Ahmadabad. There he was hacked to pieces and the fragments of his dead body were hung over the city gates as a fitting punishment for his improper conduct towards the Mulla of Samarkand whose wives and property had been captured by the pirates. He conquered the forts of Junagarh and Champanir.

Champanir was named as Muhmmadabad. As a result of his conquests, the kingdom of Gujarat extended from the frontiers of Mandu to the frontiers of Sind by Junagarh; to the Shiwalik Parbat by Jalor and Nagaur; to Nasik Trimabak by Baglana; from Burhanpur to Berar and Malkpur of the Deccan; to Karkun and river Narbada on the side of Burhanpur; on the side of Idar as far as Chittor and Kumbalgarh and on the side of the sea as the bounds of Chaul.

Mahmud Begarha joined the Sultan of Turkey to turn out the Portuguese from the Indian waters. The Portuguese were threatening to monopolise the spice trade which formely was in the hands of the Muslim traders. They were also trying to control the important sea-ports of Western India like Cambay and Chaul.


The Egyptian fleet under the command of Amir Hussain, Governor of Jeddan and the Indian contingent under the command of Malik Ayaz, defeated a Portuguese squadron commanded by Dom Lourenco near Chaul, south of Bombay, in 1508. The Christians were defeated. Dom Lourenco, son; of De Almeida, was killed in the fight which lasted for two days. His ship as surrounded on every side.

Although his leg was broken by a cannon-ball at the very beginning of the fighting, he continued to give orders. However, another cannon-ball struck him in the breast and Dom Laurence died “without knowing what the word surrender meant.” The Potuguese inflicted a crushing defeat on the combined Muslim fleet near Diu in February, 1509. In 1510, Mahmud Begarha surrendered Diu to Albuquerque. A Portuguese factory appeared in the Island in 1513.

The author of Mirat-i-Sikandari gives the following estimate of Mahmud Begarha: “He added glory and luster to the kingdom of Gujarat and was the best of all the Gujarat kings, including all who preceded and all who succeeded him and whether for abounding justice and generosity, for success in religious war and for the diffusion of the laws of Islam and of Musslmans; for soundness of judgment, alike in boyhood, in manhood and in old age; for power, for velour and victory-he was a pattern of excellence.”

Muhammad Begarha was succeeded by his son Muzaffar II. He waged successful wars against the Rajputs. He also restored Mahmud Shah Khalji of Malwa to his throne. He died in April, 1526, after a rule of about 15 years. He was succeeded by Sikandar, Nasir Khan, Mahmud II and Bahadur Shah.


The latter ruled from 1527 to 1537. Bahadur Shah was a brave and war-like prince. He has won undying fame through his gallantry and chivalry. The Sultan twice invaded the Deccan to rescue the rulers of Khandesh and Berar from the persecutions of Burhan Nizam Shah of Ahmednagar.

When the Rana of Chittor complained to Mahmud Khalji of Malwa, Bahadur Shah laid siege to Mandu and captured it in 1531. He also conquered Virangam, Mandal, Raisin, Bhilsa and Chanderi. He stormed the fortress of Chittor in 1534. However, he annoyed Humayun, the Mughal Emperor, by giving shelter to a political refugee.

When Bahadur refused to hand over the refugee. Humayun attacked Gujarat and conquered it. However, when Humayun was forced to leave Gujarat for Bengal, Bahadur Shah was able to recover the possession of Gujarat.

Bahadur Shah had also to fight against the Portuguess. When Bahadur Shah tried to turn out the Portuguess from Diu, he met with stiff resistance. Bahadur Shah wrote letters to the princes of the Deccan requesting them to help him in his fight against the Portuguese.


However, those letters were intercepted by the Portuguese and they decided to take his life. Bahadur Shah was induced to pay a visit to Nuno da Cunha, the Portuguese Governor. This he did in spite of warnings to the contrary. A spear was thrust into his breast and he fell down into the sea and was drowned.

After the death of Bahadur Shah, there was anarchy in Gujarat. There were many weak kings. In 1572, Gujarat was annexed by Akbar.